London's best bookshops

London's independent bookshops need our support now more than ever as the recession bites. So, beat a retreat from the biblio multiplexes such as Borders and discover the one-off joy of these literary hubs

  • London's best bookshops

    Persephone Books © Rob Greig


  • Central | North | South | East | West

    Central


    Atlantis Bookshop
    This shop, described by one reader as ‘a hub for London’s occult world, essential to the practising magus, pagan, shaman and witch’, has been around since 1922.
    Atlantis Bookshop, 49a Museum St, WC1(020 7405 2120/www.theatlantisbookshop.com) Holborn tube. Open Mon-Sat 10.30am-6pm

    BookmarksWhenever we do reader surveys, there’s always one person who gets everyone they know to write in, skewing our results. Colin Wilson, we’re on to you! However, he’s committed at least, and the rest of the fans seem genuine too: they claim it’s ‘not just a lefty bookshop’, ‘has brilliant staff’ and stocks ‘everything from climate change to civil liberties’.
    Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury St, WC1 (020 7637 1848/www.bookmarks.uk.com) Tottenham Court Rd tube. Open Mon 12noon-7pm, Tue-Fri 10am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm.

    Daunt Books Extremely popular with readers, this specialist travel bookshop (with four more branches across London) is praised for its ‘lovely, naturally lit areas’, ‘organisation by country’, ‘soothing atmosphere’ and ‘superlative collection’.
    Daunt Books, 83-84 Marylebone High St, W1 (020 7224 2295/www.dauntbooks.co.uk) Baker St tube. Open Mon-Sat 9am-7.30pm, Sun 11am-6pm.

    The European Bookshop‘If you can’t make it to Paris to stock up on those lovely Gallimard livres de poche, then this is the next best thing. They don’t just sell French books: all the major European languages are stocked.’
    The European Bookshop, 5 Warwick St, W1 (020 7734 5259/www.eurobooks.co.uk) Piccadilly Circus tube. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-6pm.

    R D Franks
    A favourite with those passionate about fashion and design, this shop has hundreds of national and international titles, from Canadian Footwear News to the inspirational Hong Kong digital graphics mag IdN. The shop has benefited from its recent move to Winsey Street.
    5 Winsey St, W1 (020 7636 1244/www.rdfranks.co.uk) Oxford Circus tube.

    Foyles
    After its £2 million refit things are much improved at Foyles, surely one of the last multi-departmental independents. An added bonus is Ray’s Jazz Café on the first floor: ‘a nice place to have lunch’.
    Foyles, 113-119 Charing Cross Rd, WC2 (020 7437 5660/www.foyles.co.uk) Tottenham Court Rd tube. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-9pm, Sun 12noon-6pm.

    Gosh!
    Unlike some comics specialists, Gosh! doesn’t ‘fill the shop with toys’. Even better, ‘knowledgable staff are sensitive to each customer’s tastes, from aficionados to first-timers’.
    Gosh!, 39 Great Russell St, WC1 (020 7636 1011/www.goshlondon.com) Tottenham Court Rd tube. Open Mon-Wed, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm, Thur, Fri 10am-7pm.

    Grant & Cutler
    Long-established top dog for foreign language bestsellers, as well as dictionaries and films, this is the place to get ‘easy reading for your Spanish homework as well as things like Russian boardgames’.
    Grant & Cutler, 55-57 Great Marlborough St, W1 (020 7734 2012/www.grantandcutler.com) Oxford Circus tube. Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun 12noon-6pm.

    Koenig Books
    An inspiring independent bookshop specialising in art, architecture and photography tomes. Koenig’s first London branch is based in the Serpentine Gallery, and there's another on the capital's literary artery, Charing Cross Road. Both have full access to mammoth arts bookshop Buchhandlung Walther Koenig in Cologne.
    80 Charing Cross Rd, WC2 (020 7240 8190/www.koenigbooks.co.uk) Leicester Square tube & Serpentine Gallery,Kensington Gardens, W2 (020 7706 4907) South Kensington tube.

    London Review Bookshop

    Small, with a constantly updated stock of around 20,000 titles, this has plans to ‘grow over time’. Encompasses fiction, biography, poetry, history, politics and philosophy.
    London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, WC1 (020 7269 9030/www.lrbshop.co.uk) Holborn or Tottenham Court Rd tube. Open Mon-Sat 10am-6.30pm, Sun12noon-6pm.

    Murder One
    Sadly, this crime specialist bookshop shut at the end of January but mail order sales are still available on 020 7539 8820 or from www.murderone.co.uk

    RIBA Bookshop
    Naturally you’ll find big glossy architecture books here, as well as city guides, monographs and specialist magazines. Thus, ‘it’s a very tempting place’.
    RIBA Bookshop, 66 Portland Place, W1 (020 7580 8416/www.riba.org) Regent’s Park tube. Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Tue 8am-9pm, Sat 8am-5pm.

    Stanfords
    Not just a (travel-writing) bookshop, but an invaluable resource for travellers who need the best maps, globes and atlases.
    Stanfords, 12-14 Long Acre, WC2 (020 7836 1321/www.stanfords.co.uk) Covent Garden or Leicester Square tube. Open Mon, Wed, Fri 9am-7.30pm, Tue 9.30am-7.30am, Thur 9am-8pm, Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 12noon-6pm

    The Quinto Bookshop
    This secondhand bookshop is wildly popular with our readers; no surprise, since it offers everything from Mills & Boon to battered copies of The Book Collector. And so recession-friendly.
    The Quinto Booskhop, 48a Charing Cross Rd, WC2 (020 7379 7669/www.haycbookshop.com). Leicester Sq tube. Open Mon-Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 12-8pm.

    Central | North | South | East | West

    North


    Children’s Bookshop
    Not only good for tots getting to grips with their ABC, this Muswell Hill treasure is a treat for those difficult ‘young adults’.
    Children’s Bookshop, 29 Fortis Green Rd, N10 (020 8444 5500) Highgate tube. Open Mon-Sat 9.15am-5.45pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

    Muswell Hill Bookshop
    Deceptively large inside, with a great collection of fiction, thoughtfully displayed, it’s no surprise that locals singled it out.
    Muswell Hill Bookshop, 72 Fortis Green Rd, N10 (020 8444 7588/www.muswellhillbookshop.com) Highgate tube. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun 12noon-5pm.

    Owl Books
    With its ‘windows arranged so beautifully’ and a ‘great kids’ section’ this is a solid all-rounder that also holds plenty of readings and events. (Margaret Atwood has appeared in the past.)
    Owl Books, 209 Kentish Town Rd, NW5 (020 7485 7793) Kentish Town tube/rail. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun
    12noon-4.30pm.

    Primrose Hill Books
    Readings and events are an important part of this lovely, welcoming shop, where writers like Ian McEwan have been known to drop in. ‘Family-owned and run, they read the books they sell.’
    Primrose Hill Books, 134 Regent’s Park Rd, NW1 (020 7586 2022/www.primrosehillbooks.com) Chalk Farm tube. Open Mon-Fri 9.30am-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

    Prospero’s Books
    Another much-loved local, this ‘small but perfectly formed’ bookshop ‘nonetheless has a wide range of stock’.
    Prospero’s Books, 32 The Broadway, N8 (020 8343 8900) Finsbury Park tube/rail. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun 11.30am-5.30pm.

    Stoke Newington Bookshop
    This local is full of covetable novels. As one fan says, ‘I always seem to see a book I want to read when browsing.’
    Stoke Newington Bookshop, 159 Stoke Newington High St, N16 (020 7249 2808//www.stokenewingtonbookshop.co.uk). Open Mon-Sat 9:30am-6pm, Sunday 11am-5pm

    Central | North | South | East | West

    South

    Bolingbroke Bookshop
    Collectors come here for the complete collection of Pevsner’s architectural guides. There's also a mini Bolingbroke Experss steam train for kids.
    Bolingbroke Bookshop, 147 Northcote Rd, SW11 (020 7223 9344/www.bolingbrokebookshop.tbpcontrol.co.uk) Clapham Junction rail. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

    Bookseller Crow on the Hill
    Great for American and British literature, this Crystal Palace local has ‘a good range of magazines not sold in the larger stores’. There are also big kids and graphic novel sections.
    Bookseller Crow on the Hill, 50 Westow St, SE19 (020 8771 8831/www.booksellercrow.com) Gypsy Hill rail. Open Mon-Fri 9am-7.30pm, Sat 9.30am-6.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

    Kirkdale Bookshop
    With weekend readings for children (aged 3 and over) and a small exhibition room, Kirkdale’s place on Sydenham High Street, ‘pound shop capital of the world’, is a ‘pearl among swine’.
    Kirkdale Bookshop, 272 Kirkdale, SE26 (020 8778 4701) Sydenham rail. Open Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm.

    Review
    The outdoor seating makes this the perfect place for a coffee-fuelled browse on sunny days. Inside, there’s an emphasis on art, architecture, design and photography books.Chess and backgammon sets are also available for those who like to linger.
    Review, 131 Bellenden Rd, SE15 (020 7639 7400/www.reviewbookshop.co.uk) Peckham Rye rail. Open Tues-Sun 10am-7pm.

    Village Books
    The personal touch from owners Hazel Broadfoot and Julian Toland has long been popular in Dulwich Village. Now there’s a sister shop near Wandsworth Common where Beckett’s Bookshop used to be (it retains the name for now).
    The Bookshop, 1d Calton Avenue, SE21 (020 8693 2808) North Dulwich rail. Open Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
    Beckett’s Bookshop, 6 Bellevue Rd, SW17 (020 8672 4413) Wandsworth Common rail. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm.



    Central | North | South | East | West

    East


    Magma
    An essential oasis for all design creatives, selling every imaginable book on illustration, fashion, animation, graphics, book design, architecture and advertising. The Earlham St store at No 8 (there is another Magma book store at No 16) sells other design-focused products, like plates by cool French label Domestic and a cardboard boombox for your iPod.
    117-119 Clerkenwell Rd, EC1 (020 7242 9503/www.magmabooks.com) Farringdon tube/rail. Also: 8 & 16 Earlham St, WC2. Covent Garden tube.


    Central
    | North | South | East | West

    West


    Blenheim Books
    You’ll find interiors, architecture and photography books here.
    Blenheim Books, 11 Blenheim Crescent, W11 (020 7792 0777/www.blenheimbooks.co.uk) Notting Hill Gate tube. Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 12noon-5pm.

    Books for Cooks
    Widely raved about by foodies, this recipe haven is also adored for the homemade treats its staff dish out.
    Books for Cooks, 4 Blenheim Crescent, W11 (020 7221 1992/www.booksforcooks.com) Ladbroke Grove tube. Open Tue-Sat 10am-6pm.

    John Sandoe Books
    ‘John Sandoe’s has a large reputation for such a rickety shop, which is crammed with roughly 25,000 titles sold by well-informed people who care. Just off the King’s Road, it’s one of the few idiosyncratic shops left in the area.’
    John Sandoe Books, 10 Blacklands Terrace, SW3 (020 7589 9473/www.johnsandoe.com) Sloane Square tube. Open Mon, Tue, Thur-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Wed 9.30am-7.30pm, Sun 12-6pm.

    Lion and the Unicorn Bookshop
    This friendly children’s bookshop comes highly recommended by those with kids. The shop has its own newsletter, the Roar, and nominated books of the month.
    Lion and the Unicorn Bookshop, 19 King St, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 (020 8940 0483/www.lionunicornbooks.co.uk) Richmond tube/rail. Open Mon-Fri 9.30am-5.30pm, Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun 12noon-5pm.

    Persephone Books
    This tiny publishing house-cum-lovely bookshop has breathed new life into 78 neglected interwar fiction titles, and repackaged them in Persephone's trademark dove-grey covers, each with its own distinct fabric-inspired endpapers. A new branch has opened in at 109 Kensington Church St, W8 (020 7221 2201) Notting Hill Gate tube. Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm.
    59 Lamb's Conduit St, WC1 (020 7242 9292/www.persephonebooks.co.uk) Holborn or Russell Square tube.
    Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm. 

  • Add your comment to this feature

The personal touch from owners Hazel Broadfoot and Julian Toland has long been popular in Dulwich Village. Now there’s a sister shop near Wandsworth Common where Beckett’s Bookshop used to be (it retains the name for now).Central | North | South | East | West

Users say

51 comments
Eva von Zobeltitz-Jope
Eva von Zobeltitz-Jope

Can anyone tell me a good book shop in London for children´s books, fiction and facts and also encyclopedia of various kinds? Is there a low budget store of books somewhere? I teach German kids English and want them to look at pictures and text, Thank you for your help

JOHN BYRNE
JOHN BYRNE

Stansfield is publishing THE BRUNELS Engineers Extraordinaire, A celebration in verse on 21 JAN 2013. This well researched book will appeal to anyone interested in The Industrial Revolution and its main players....

fatema
fatema

Hello there, My two non-fiction books, distress and ache in my heart, published by Wordclay.com, author id. 85880. Please order number of copies you desire. Thanks Regards, Fatema Miah

Jerry
Jerry

I am trying to locate bookshop called "The good book guide store" in London Please help

Jess
Jess

What about Victoria Park books?- It's an amazing indendent children's bookshop, stocking everything from board books to young adult novels.

books4less
books4less

new book shop opened in wealdstone high street in the inshops centre selling new and second hand books from the 18th century to today and everything inbetween including foriegn language, education, religion as well as childresn toyas and crafts

Stuart
Stuart

Dorothy, how about the Beckenham Bookshop, on the 54 bus route? small friendly shop with great customer order service!

Dorothy
Dorothy

Does anyone know of a good bookshop in the Lewisham area, easily reachable by public transport (I know there's Waterstones in Bromley)?

arnie
arnie

how about a little update Time out please, this list is far from complete. The title London's best bookshop may be a good hook but does not deliver. One more effort to show you care.

Keny E-B
Keny E-B

How about the AA bookshop ? shouldnt it be referenced too ?

Becky
Becky

RD Franks has now closed down :(

meric
meric

I remember buying discounted books from a shop where I got out from the tube station (can it be Piccadily Circus) and across the street was a H&M shop. I remember the shop being a book publisher association or sth. like that. I haven' been in London for years now and will be there in June if yu know the place , I would appreciate if you mentioned it here. Thanks.

Poppy
Poppy

I second Clerkenwell Tales & Victoria Park Books, but am most surprised to see Artwords missing from the East list. Great Art, Fashion & Design specialists, run by friendly owner Ben. On Rivington St and new larger Broadway Market branch.

George Hill
George Hill

Also, I have just learned that Skoob Books — missing from your little roundup — you named this year as "Best Bookshop" in London. At the head of this article you describe yourselves as "Time Out Consume [no 'r'] Editors". Makes me wonder what you've been consuming!

George Hill
George Hill

How could you omit Skoob Books — a basement full of treasures, entrance at the back of Waitrose at the Brunswick Centre in Bloomsbury?

Rachel
Rachel

I highly recommend Victoria Park Books in Hackney; by far the best children's bookshop in North London - also has an interesting selection of specialist adult books too.

Dara
Dara

Can someone tell me a REALY GOOOD book shop where I can buy finance books?

Andrija
Andrija

Can someone tell me a good bookstore where I can find books about espionage world?

Susanne Hosoien
Susanne Hosoien

I would like ti visit a good bookshop for language teachers. Does anyone know any I can visit?

rguy
rguy

anyone know of a great magazine shop? browsing for new and different titles is one of my great pleasures but we've lost all decent selections up here in leeds.

chaz
chaz

Concrete Hermit in Shoreditch, on Club Row has a cool selection of illustration, design and photography titles, as well as a selection of art based zines. They have some nice shows in their little gallery.....

Barney
Barney

Only just found this artcle - Can't believe Clapham Books isn't on your list - great selection of the classic the popular and the quirky - next day ordering friendly knowledgeable staff and fab author events - South London's best book shop !!!!120 Clapham High St sw4 7uh - easy to find btwn Clapham Common and Clapham North tubes

Anna
Anna

Please, help me. I'm interested in Shooters bible 100th edition. Where can I buy this book in London?

Serg
Serg

I discovered new russian-language bookshop in Central London that has a huge range of both fiction and non-fiction Russian books. It's my favourite Russian bookshop in London: 23 Goodge Street London W1T 2PL www.booksinrussian.co.uk

sarah
sarah

Could you tell me please wich one of these libraries will be the best to find books on fixed gear / art & bike / photographies... THX

sophie
sophie

Clerkenwell Tales is a great new bookshop just opened on Exmouth market. Pete, the owner, is lovely and really helpful and he has stocked the shop with lots of lovely books. It's small and beautifully presented and has a strong quirky mix of Fashion, photography and contemporary fiction and a great Travel Lit section. My new favourite bookshop in London! www.clerkenwell-tales.co.uk 30 Exmouth Market Clerkenwell EC1R 4QE

Rachael
Rachael

If you're a bargain hunter there's a great second hand bookshop on Bell Street in Marylebone. I picked up Updike's Rabbit Redux the other day for 50p and the rough guide to Vietnam for £1.50. Cheaper than most charity shops; heaven knows how they make a living.

Jacqueline
Jacqueline

Goldsboro books (7 Cecil Court WC2N 4EZ) should definitely be on this list. Although situated in the heart of the West End, It is a peaceful retreat from all the hub. Always friendly courteous staff, which are knowledgeable and passionate about the books they sell. Enabling you to purchase a signed first, with many at publishers pricing! Goldsboro boasts a generous loyalty scheme (with real rewards, unlike Waterstones!!) and an amazing book of the month club with a further 10% off books, for members. All in all a brilliant find!

Double Dutch
Double Dutch

'Um, Quinto's 2nd hand bookshop near British Museum is something to be seen...' someone remarked. It was indeed, but I'm afraid it's no longer there. I closed down more than a year ago. The branch on Charing Cross Road has just been beautifully refurbished though. Worth a visit!

Katie
Katie

The Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green is becoming something of a sensation in North London. Well worth a visit, and well worth checking out their blog Open a Bookshop, What Could Possibly Go Wrong. I love it.

Tamara Budhan
Tamara Budhan

Why isn't The Book Box in Hackney on the list?! A really lovely shop with an excellent range of children and adults books. And they organise author events and book groups. My first choice! 53 Chatsworth Road Claption London E5 0LH www.bookboxonline.co.uk

mamaS
mamaS

the comment below is maybe a bit harsh, but have to say I've only found the staff at Koenig Books on the Charing Cross Road to be really unhelpful. Now Shipley Art Booksellers has gone, I find the best art books are at Donlon Books in the East End.

Christian Whitehead
Christian Whitehead

I was surprised that Motor Books, London's only motoring, railway, military and aviation specialist bookshop didn't get a mention in your list The shop moved to Cecil Court in 2007 after celebrating its 50th anniversary in nearby St Martins Court and have been there for a year and a half. Cecil Court is worth the trip alone if you really like independent bookshops. Motor Books address is 13-15 Cecil Court and the nearest tube is Leicester Square.

albaltika
albaltika

A number of other places surely deserve a mention: West End Lane Books in West Hampstead has a finely-judged selection of fiction and non-fiction, has knowledgeable staff and is well laid-out. Judd Books on Marchmont Street, WC1N, has two floors of new and secondhand and is worth checking out, as is the cavernous Skoob Books, just round the corner near the Brunswick Centre.

Art Books
Art Books

Great new shop has just opened in Marylebone with some beautiful art books. Address is: Other Criteria, 14 Hinde Street, W1U 3BG Other Criteria started as a web based company and now has two shops, the first is on New Bond Street specialising in editions. Books by Damien Hirst, Michael Joo, Paul Fryer etc. It also sells t-shirts, posters and editions.

Chris Thomas
Chris Thomas

If you're into philosophy and unexpected titles, The Swedenborg Society Bookshop on Bloomsbury Way (between New Oxford St and Holborn) is a great find: a publishing house since 1810, it specialises in titles by the Swedish philosopher and mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg, and publishes books of essays discussing his ideas. Also lots of books about William Blake, works by Yeats, Dostoyevsky, Baudelaire who were all inspired by his radical philosophy.

Keith Lucas
Keith Lucas

Isn't Housmans at Kings Cross on the list? Besides being one of the last political/radical bookshops left in London, it's full of strange stuff you'd almost never be able to browse through anywhere else. And its hundreds of radical magazines must be the widest range anywhere.

Jim MacSweeney
Jim MacSweeney

I'm surprised you haven't included Gay's The Word in your list. This iconic bookstore celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and stocks a fantastic range of books - history, academic, queer & gender studies, fiction, poetry, transgender etc. Check it out at 66 Marchmont Street and discover why so many lesbian and gay tourists to London make it their first port of call.

tashi
tashi

Urban Forms and Colonial Confrontations: Algeria Under French Rule (Hardcover) can anyone tell me where I can find this book? It would be very helpful . thanks !

charlie
charlie

PLEASE GO to the Black Gull Bookshop in East Finchley...It has the best collection of art books etc.... Worth the trip!

Dave Daveson
Dave Daveson

slightly belated...but best bet for academic remainders and second hand is the Blackwell's on the corner of Mallet Street in the University quarter. They have a very good range (check upsatirs as well as the racks by the stairwell).

Badger
Badger

Anyone know the location of the bookshop which sells quirky titles?

Markus
Markus

Is there any bookshop specialised in (academic) overstocks and remainder books in London (like Postscript mailorder)? I'm very interested in addresses. Thanx

Farai Mazonde
Farai Mazonde

awright mate! The Quinto Bookshop 48A Charing Cross Road, Covent Garden London, WC2H 0BB my first choice

Jason
Jason

Quinto bookshop on Charing Cross road is without doubt the best 2nd bookshop in London!!